The One With the Slippers

babytiaWhen Tia was nine days old, I took her to have pictures made. I wanted to go all out on her newborn pictures, so I naturally went to Picture People and paid $10 for 150 pictures of the exact same terrible shot. (I paid an extra 10 bucks to get 150 of a second shot because I felt like splurging.)

In my defense, digital pictures were just now beginning to take off. Lee and I had only gotten our first digital camera less than a year earlier. I still preferred a camera with actual film because…I don’t know why. Because change is hard? And for all you young ‘uns reading this blog who don’t remember life without digital images, this is how fast technology can change the world. I also had a flip phone back then that I could never remember to keep charged and I didn’t text because tapping out the alphabet was a torture greater than trying to nurse an infant in a crowded room.

In short, I am old enough to remember the good old days.

I have digressed mightily, though. This post isn’t about technology, nor is it about the terrible pictures I got at Picture People. This post is about motherhood, obviously.

Back in those days (seven and a half years ago…feels like a lifetime), I did not yet have a minivan, I didn’t blog and I only had one and a half kids. An infant only counts as half, that’s how those census people are able to determine that the average American household has 2.5 children. Infants. They aren’t full people until they can support their own body weight.

Sometimes I think back to those early days with little littles and I laugh at how difficult it all felt. Just getting up and out of the house felt like a momentous task each and every morning, and indeed it was. Try getting half a person ready while a two year old (who should really count as three people if we’re being honest) terrorizes the house. Those days were hard. They were really hard.


Our lovely, off-centered picture. I still have about 120 of these left so if anyone wants one, just let me know…

The morning I took Tia and Sloan to Picture People for those awesome of awesome portraits, I did it all on my own. Lee was out of town (because his company had impeccable timing and adored sending him away for a week and a half every time I had a baby) and I was on my own. I got up extra early that morning. Actually, if I remember correctly, I just didn’t go back to bed after the 4 am feeding. I took a shower, fixed my hair, put on make up (make up!), dressed two small children (one and a half, whatever…), changed diapers, fed said children breakfast, got them bundled up (February in St. Louis is cold in an evil, diabolical sort of way) and got out the door.

As I walked into the mall – the mall! – for our 9:00 appointment, I strolled confidently up to my mom. I had the car seat popped securely in the stroller and Sloan held tight to the side. I was rocking that motherhood gig. I felt like shouting LOOK AT ME, EVERYONE! SEE ALL MY AWESOME! BEHOLD, COME GAZE UP MY TOGETHERNESS AND MARVEL AT HOW EASY I MAKE THIS LOOK! I DID THIS ALL ON MY OWN! LOOK AT HOW GREAT I AM!

“You made it!” Mom cried. As if there was any doubt.

“Yep, and I got everything done! Look, I even got a shower!”

We stepped onto the escalator and as we did, I tripped slightly so I looked down to catch my balance.

I was still wearing my slippers. These were not slippers that looked like shoes, either. These were slippers that looked like slippers. I looked back up at my mom and she threw her head back and laughed.

“Well, if that’s all you forgot, you did okay,” she said with a grin.

Motherhood is exhausting and every season of child-rearing brings a new set of crazy. Sometimes the online world can make it seem like we all have it together. We’re coiffed and showered. Our clothes are clean and our children are picture perfect. The world online can look like sunshine and rainbows, and for the exhausted Mama getting up at 4 am so she can get out of the house by 8:30, it can feel like the entire world has it more together than you.

Just don’t forget that we’re all wearing slippers in some way, shape or form. Raising kids isn’t about having it all together, or looking put together, so don’t give into the pressure, because honestly?

Slippers are so very, very comfortable.

Isn’t She Lovely?

This GIRL, you guys. She is changing so much!






I heart her.









Her daddy thinks we ought to ship her off to a convent in northern Iceland. I would tend to agree.

We might be in trouble with this one.

On her third birthday I told her everything I wanted her to know as she grew.

For her fifth birthday I made a video celebrating her.

Oh how she deserves to be celebrated.

The lone female, sandwiched between all that male.

And today she is six.

Happy Birthday, Katya Rose.

McKenna: An All American Girl

Did you know I’m a ninja? Seriously, I’m like the master at stealth. I’m so good that sometimes?

Sometimes I take myself by surprise.

For example, today’s post about the recent launch of American Girl’s newest Girl of the Year, McKenna comes right on the heels of my post about gymnastics and what an impact that sport has had on my life and continues to have through my daughter.

And it just so happens that McKenna’s story is a gymnastics story.

See how I did that? You might be prone to think that I planned these two posts so that one followed the other – that I worked a bit of organizational magic. But if that’s what you thought, you would be wrong. I placed these two posts side by side without even thinking about it.

Because I’m that good…


So American Girl has officially launched McKenna and I couldn’t be more in love with this new doll. She’s adorable (no surprise there) and her story is inspirational as you would only expect from American Girl. I can’t wait to show Tia this new doll.

From American Girl: McKenna’s story is about a young gymnast who overcomes her struggles with reading by using her strengths. Through tutoring, friendship, and hard work, McKenna gradually develops a renewed, deeper confidence in her abilities. She learns that confidence lies in balancing strengths with weaknesses and using what you know to master what you don’t know. We hope that girls who read McKenna’s stories discover that by focusing on their strengths they can achieve great things, whether it is in academics or any other activities they want to pursue.

McKenna’s story is a chance for young girls to relate to the challenges and obstacles that come with passion and drive. McKenna loves her sport and excels in it, but when she struggles in another area of life, namely academics, she has to admit that she needs help. Mary Casanova, author of the two McKenna books, took some time to share a bit of her heart behind writing McKenna’s story.

“There are many aspects to McKenna’s story that I hope will inspire young girls,” says Casanova. “When McKenna struggles with reading and faces academic challenges at school, she must admit that she needs help and also be willing to accept help to overcome her challenges. That’s not an easy thing to do. It would be wonderful if success in one area, such as sports, equated success in every other area, such as academics. But life doesn’t always work that way. That’s why one of the life skills that is emphasized in the McKenna books is: finding balance.”

With this idea in mind, American Girl has partnered with Save the Children in support of their U.S. Literacy Program. By introducing a companion nonfiction book, Take the Challenge!, featuring various activities, games, and quizzes, American Girl strives to help girls explore their different strengths and abilities. And for every trophy a girl earns through the McKenna Take the Challenge online activity, American Girl is donating $.25 (up to a maximum of $50,000) to help Save the Children supply the tools children in grades K-8 need to increase their reading achievement and provide the guidance and support they need to grow as readers.

In addition to the Take the Challenge initiative,  American Girl will continue its partnership with Save the Children in May as part of their Summer Reading initiative, where they will be donating $1.00 (up to a maximum of $100,000) for every American Girl book purchased in the proprietary channels during the promotional time frame. More information on the initiative will be available on the American Girl website later this spring.

I’m not going to lie – American Girl dolls bring out the little girl in me. I may, or may not, have spent time brushing and fixing the hair of Tia’s dolls by myself on more than one occasion. I mean, I’m not saying for sure, but there’s a chance that that’s happened.

More and more, though, I find myself impressed with the company itself and their heartfelt desire to encourage and build up little girls. If any of you were thinking about taking the plunge into American Girl, McKenna is a great place to start – particularly if you have a little girl who needs a little inspiration and encouragement. Visit American for more information.

Disclaimer: I am working in conjunction with American Girl to promote the launch of the Girl of the Year, McKenna. In return for my help, I received a McKenna doll. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions expressed are my own. I am grateful to American Girl for the opportunity.

It’s raining today

She’s walked around the house whimpering and clutching her ear.  She hasn’t slept a full night in four days nor has she eaten much of anything.

This is the child who never says no to sleep and food.  Ever.

More than once when she was younger, she would vomit in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep in it and we wouldn’t know she was sick until the next morning when the house smelled like death.  Hope you’re not reading this while drinking your coffee.

So we knew something was wrong.  The Walgreen’s Walk In clinic nurse lady said Swimmer’s Ear.  It was a best guess since she couldn’t see past the impacted wax in Tia’s teeny tiny ear canals.  So off we went with drops and an Icee, because Tia didn’t scream bloody murder when the nurse lady looked in her ears.


She spiked a fever and her ear hurt so bad she couldn’t even eat a Wendy’s Frosty for lunch. This was bad.  So we made a phone call to a local ENT and I bribed her a second time in three days.

“Be brave and I’ll get you a little treat,” I promised.  Because in the past it’s taken me and two nurses to hold her down for an ear exam.  Bribery is my only defense.

“That is a nasty looking little ear,” the doctor said as he peeked inside.  Her eyes were squeezed shut and she took big deep breaths to keep herself calm.  “Most adults wouldn’t be able to function under the type of pain she is probably experiencing.”

Her ear canal has swollen shut, a negative reaction to the medicated drops.  Does she have an inner ear infection in addition to the outer ear infection?  No one can say because she has so much wax in her ears and it’s packed in tight like cement.

“I’m surprised she can hear anything at all,” he said.  I told him we repeat things a lot.

So Friday morning, we are headed into a local surgery center to have her sedated and have her ears roto-rooter’ed (Yes, that’s a word…it’s a verb).  From there we will better be able to determine exactly what’s going on inside her ears and hopefully relieve her of this nasty, ugly pain.

Until then, it’s lots of Tylenol and hugs and probably a few more sleepless nights.  The little radiator climbs in bed with us around 1:30 when her current dose of medication wears off and sleeps on top of me the rest of the night.  The good news is that last night, for the first time in several days, she hasn’t cried throughout the night.  And she’s still asleep this morning.

Probably because it’s raining and dark outside.

Look at that, I somehow managed to tie that random title into this post after all.  Go me…

How is your week going?

Five Extraordinary Years

All of my children are miracles.  They are miracles to me.  All three of them own my heart and are wrapped into the depths of my soul.  There is a feeling that is a little deeper, though, when I look at my daughter.

My daughter.

To hear those words when I had convinced myself I would never have a daughter…That moment is forever etched on my heart.  She’s my daughter.  Mine. 

And I adore her.

I want the world for her.

I want to protect her from the world.

She’s beautiful and sassy and funny and awesome.

She’s my daughter.

And today?  Today she is five.



5 Extraordinary Years from Kelli Stuart on Vimeo.

 Happy Birthday to my sweet girl today.  I look forward to many more extraordinary years…

Song by Rebekah Sullivant from her Little Lambs and Lullabies album.

Many thanks to Jim of BusyDadBlog for inspiring me to begin using video and for taking the time to teach me how to use the software.  Hopefully there will be many more videos to come.

Tia Tales: The Four Year Old Edition


She is part girl, part Tazmanian Devil.  She is gregarious and passionate.  Equal parts sugar and spice, she really is everything nice.  And she is 100% a four year old, which means she lets loose with a few gems now and again.

Take, for instance, our trip to Target last week.  As we run into the store (and when I say run, I mean run.  This child rarely walks), she smacks right into one of those big, red, cement balls out front.  And at a decible only a preschooler can create exclaims, “Ow!  My penis!”

And the older couple in front of us turn in surprise then melt into laughter.  And I wonder if I could possibly dig a hole in the ground and bury myself there…


She’s a happy girl who loves to dress up, but won’t let a dress stop her from having fun.  In fact, I’m pretty certain you won’t find a messier child on planet earth.  It’s probably a good thing we don’t have a little girl behind her, because I don’t know that I have a single outfit without a stain on it.

She’s also fearless.  She will climb up and jump off of anything.  Case in point, we were at a friends country home this weekend.  They have a swing chained to a tree branch and it swings out over a hill so when you’re swinging forward, you’re much higher in the air than you expect to be.

My kids love to jump off swings.  Sloan went first and in keeping with his thoughtful approach to life, he waited until he had slowed down a bit before jumping and rolling down the hill.  Tia went next.  In keeping with her fly by the seat approach to life, she jumped at the peak of her swing, which means that she was easily 6 feet in the air when she launched.  Maybe more.

Lee and I had heart attacks and both yelped.  She arced through the air as confident as could be and slammed to the ground.  I was certain she broke both ankles, but she hopped up, turned around and gave us a look like Dude!  I totally had that.


She takes delight in tormenting her brothers.  De-light.  Here she is spraying them with the hose.  Despite the fact that Landon was screaming his head off, she chased him across the yard, spraying and grinning like the Cheshere Cat.

Then she tried to spray me.


I caught her putting on my make-up last night.  She had on blue eye shadow, a LOT of blush and red lipstick.  She looked like a little Vegas Showgirl.  When I asked her what she was doing she gave me “the look” (the one that clearly says, Duh Mom…) and said, “I jus want to be woody (really) pitty for Daddy.”

I caught her taking a swig out of the Infant Tylenol bottle yesterday.  Fun times.  She didn’t get but a sip, but I made sure she understood how dangerous it was to drink medicine.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yes Ma’am, I undewstand…but I still woody, woody fink I need medicine.”

“Why do you need medicine?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.  “I just fought if I said dat you would give me some.”

She is my girl and, my goodness, I am madly in love with her.  Even if I am fairly certain she is conspiring to make sure I age at hyperspeed.


Sometimes a kiss and a bandaid won’t do

I’ve pretty much given up hope on finding Tia’s lovey. I know I’ve been talking about this a lot, but it really has been an upsetting thing for her and for me. I spent a little time thinking about it last night because I have honestly fluctuated between crying over that silly bear and laughing at myself for getting so upset. It’s more than just the fact that we lost a little piece of Tia. That, of course, does make me so sad, but it goes beyond those emotions.

As parents, we work hard to fix our children’s problems – especially when they’re little and the problems are so easy to fix. You got a scrape? Let mommy kiss it – all better! You’re scared? Here, come snuggle with mommy.  And so it goes… 

The problems, in general, are just easier to fix during these young years. But now, suddenly, my daughter has a problem that I cannot fix for her. It’s relatively minor, of course, compared to the real tragedies that could happen. But in her little two year old mind, she is missing her best friend and I am unable to fix that for her. I can’t turn back the clock and look for lovey before we left the hotel. I can’t will him to appear. I can’t find another one on the internet. It’s the first time I’ve watched one of my kids face disappointment and it stinks!

My mom wisely told me the other day that this will not be the last time I have to sit back and watch my child hurt and know there’s nothing I can do to fix it. We are approaching the school days when the sharp, pointed barbs of another child’s words could potentially devastate one of my kids. That is a wound I cannot prevent and it will equally cut through my heart to see them suffer such disappointment. There will likely be some snot nosed little boy that will one day come along and break my daughter’s heart and I will have to sit back and let her be refined through that experience.

There are so many disappointments to come, so many heartaches that mommy will not be able to kiss away. For now I will relish the thought that for the most part, I am their hero. I can fix their problems, but I am praying the Lord will give me the strength to handle the bigger disappointments to come because if I get this upset over a little bear, what will I do when something worse happens?

With time, Tia will slowly forget that little purple bear. Before long, his memory will exist to her only through pictures and the stories we tell. I, however, will probably always long to find her lovey bear. I imagine that for years to come, every time I pass a children’s section of a store, my eyes will automatically glance through the stuffed animals hanging up disply, looking and hoping to see lovey bear. Long after her affections have moved on to something else, my heart will still long to ease the pain of the few weeks when she longed for her friend, her comfort.

Am I obssesive, or is this just natural? I haven’t figured that one out yet.

The Plague is Upon Us!

Good grief. We were back at the pediatrician yesterday, this time for Landon. That’s 80 bucks in co-pays in just five days! Poor little guy has a terrible cold. Of course, yesterday when I took him, he was just congested but his lungs were fine. Today his nose seems a little better, but he has the most awful sounding cough. We are just praying that this clears up soon and doesn’t worsen into the dreaded RSV. The only advice the dr. had for us at this point was to sit in a steamy bathroom with him, which I did for about 40 minutes at 3:00 this morning. I guess it helped a little but he still seems pretty miserable. As long as his breathing remains regulated and his color stays pink we should be okay. So far so good in those areas…
I’m learning a lot right now about God’s perfect will and His Providence in our lives. I’m reading a great book called With God in Russia about a priest who was falsely imprisoned in the Soviet Union during World War II. He was an American priest who went over there to share God’s love with the Russians, but was ultimately accused of espionage. He spent 15 years in a Siberian labor camp before he was finally released and sent back to the United States. His attitude and recollections toward that time are amazing and convicting. But one thing he says over and over is that he relied on the knowledge that God had a purpose and a plan and that he was in that place for a reason and that reason was to bring glory to God. Even when he spent an entire year in solitary confinement, he looked for every opportunity to glorify God and spent hours a day in prayer and meditation. In light of that, my momentary trials seem pale. I am trying to spend more time today thinking about how I can glorify God in this situation and less about how I can feel sorry for myself and how tired I am. It’s 8:43 right now and so far I’ve had a pretty good attitude. We’ll see how I do at 5:00. That’s the true test! Anyway, that’s me this morning…